I have been traveling a lot recently. Not only have I been taking advantage of my last few weeks in New Zealand, but I attended the NZ Family Law Conference, and I had a final meeting for Fulbright, along with Thanksgiving dinner at the US Ambassador’s Residence. I will continue to travel for the next few weeks until I head back to the United States, and then when I get back to the US, I will be homeless until January 8 even though I start work on December 27.
View of Queen Charlotte Sound with a koru (fern opening). This represents so much of my time in NZ.
I’m sharing this itinerary as a long way of saying there is not a lot of time and space for yoga, especially because I stay at hostels and not hotels when traveling. I am really hoping this is the last trip of my life where I do that, but I digress. All the traveling, lack of personal space, and lack of a quality night sleep can add up. But that is when one of the best lessons I have learned from my yoga teacher here in Dunedin kicks in.
It is the little things that make a huge difference. This is just another of the yoga paradoxes: sometimes the less you do, the more results you see.
My teacher’s favorite example is relieving low back pain by lying on the floor and moving the pelvis forward and back, which is sometimes used as a preparation for bridge pose, but here, it is useful in its own right. It helps relieve the lower back muscles. It is simple, easy, and fairly quick. Plus, it results in massive change in the low back. I have used it a lot since I have been doing 6-hour hikes carrying a heavy pack.
This lesson is, of course, one that translates into life off the mat as well. I hear from people so often that the reason they do not do yoga is because they do not have the time. They often think it takes a huge commitment. In truth, the only commitment necessary is the commitment to take a few moments for yourself . . . even for five minutes per day.
So often we think that only the big things are worth doing. We are only going to go to the gym if we can stay for an hour, we are only going to do yoga if we can go to a class, and we are only going to write to a long-lost friend if we can find the perfect words to say. We feel we must do it all or it is not worth doing. Thus, we end up only doing the things that matter to us when we can “find the time.”
The truth of the matter, however, is that rather than the big moments, our lives are defined by the small ones. Each moment is a choice to do something, and our choices in each moment matter. Especially at this time of year when we are bombarded with mass consumerism, big holidays, and serious gluttony, taking a moment to recognize the little parts of life that matter is especially important. Ironically, it is the holiday season when we are “supposed” to pay attention to the little things that we lose sight of them.
Instead of recognizing gratitude once per year, remember to say thank you every single day. Instead of just sending a card once per year, take a 10 minute walk and call an old friend. Instead of popping the painkiller for the low back pain, lie on the floor and give yourself a 5-minute massage. These little moments add up, and they remind us how deeply connected we are. They also begin to make massive changes in our lives.
What are your favorite little things to keep you going each day?
© Rebecca Stahl 2011, all rights reserved.